Health knowledge made personal
Nearly 18 years ago, I did not understand what sounds meant to me. Every morning for the first few weeks, when I was a rough little three-year old child, my mother had to sit on me in order to get the magnet on my head. I know that sounds cruel of my mother, but I am grateful to her for doing this because she has taught me that it is unimaginable to live in a silent world. Today, I understand that every morning, when I wake up and put my cochlear implants on my ears, I am welcomed to the broad spectrum of opportunities, which include being able to learn a second spoken language, French.
I was born profoundly deaf. Because the most powerful hearing aids did not help me and my parents did not want me to sign, they decided to opt for the cochlear implant. In 1989, I became one of the first 200 children in US to receive a cochlear implant as part of the FDA clinical trials. When my parents and I traveled to New York University, they hoped that I would at least hear traffic noise and other environmental sounds necessary for safety. However, our expectations with my cochlear implant were quickly surpassed. I attended Auditory-Verbal therapy to learn to hear and to speak, and within six months I made tremendous progress and was beginning both to understand what people were saying and to speak.
During my young childhood years, I continued to go to Auditory-Verbal therapy to improve my hearing and speaking skills. I always had to leave school a half hour early to attend sessions once a week. This never bothered me as my parents taught me that attending therapy sessions was going to pay off in the future, and it did as my language is now caught up. I am one of those people who can easily fool others into thinking that I am a normal hearing person. Sometimes when I tell people that I am deaf, they are astounded and refuse to believe me.
In order for me to be part of the hearing world, my parents placed me in mainstream school settings so that not only could I learn to hear, speak, and communicate, but also to be an independent hearing person. Thus, I attended mainstream schools throughout my life where I excelled and received honors. I was also very involved in extracurricular activities throughout my school years, including student council, National Honor Society, Film Club, French Club, and I also had officer positions in some of these activities. I?m now in college and pursuing studies in photography and am also very involved with my school newspaper as Features Editor.
About four years ago, I received an implant for my other ear so that I could hear bilaterally. I am certainly hearing better with two implants, and everything sounds sound richer and fuller.
I also have a younger sister, Jessica, who was born profoundly deaf. She received her cochlear implant at NYU too so that she could be implanted at the age of 15 months. At that time, she was the youngest child in the country to be implanted. She also received a second implant when she was nine years old. She is now in middle school and is doing beautifully like me. We have a brother who is 17 and has normal hearing.
I have a website that speaks about my sister's and my life with cochlear implants and has information about cochlear implants. Please visit at http://www.cochlearimplantonline.com .